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Rick Bayless

Batali serving pasta, beef at White House dinner for Italy

A little more than 24 hours before President Barack Obama hosts his final White House state dinner, for Italy's prime minister, guest and celebrity chef Mario Batali appeared as cool as the sweet potato puree that will be stuffed inside of hundreds of pasta pockets and turned into a ravioli appetizer.

After all, Batali said he's prepared meals for crowds as large as 7,000 people. So then dinner for 400 in a tent on the South Lawn should be a piece of cake, right?

"My only worry is, logistically, I really like hot plates and hot food," Batali said Monday at the White House, where he and four chefs who accompanied him from New York had already started prepping...